Contempt of court verdict: Is it to intimidate public opinion?

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By P Ramakrishnan

Ramakrishnan says that the court’s decision against Malaysiakini is aimed at the general public as a clear warning not to be too critical about the entire judiciary.

The Malaysian public is horrified by the contempt of court verdict in the case of Malaysiakini. The non-appealable verdict is not seen as something to discourage disparaging opinions about the judiciary in the news portal. It is perceived by discerning Malaysians as punitive and harsh to instill fear for exercising one’s freedom of expression.

It is not so much as punishing Malaysiakini as giving a stern warning to those who dare to be frank in their opinion about the judiciary per se. It is aimed at the general public as a clear warning not to be too critical about the entire judiciary.

Why was there a need to impose a fine beyond what was recommended by the Attorney-General, which was RM200,000? By imposing a fine which was 150 per cent more than the fine recommended, was the judiciary indirectly trying to put Malaysiakini out of business?

For 21 years, Malaysiakini stood as a beacon of hope for Malaysians and for freedom of expression in our country. By daring to carry articles – news that really mattered – Malaysiakini stood out as a shining example of true journalism.

It carried on its noble role fearlessly, courageously and admirably as the protector of the public interest. It kept Malaysians informed and the recalcitrant elements who defy the rule of law on their toes.

Its coverage of court cases and election rallies as well as its expose of the corrupt and the abuse of power and the rule of law have done a great public service in keeping the people alert and advancing the cause of justice.

It is my firm belief that as a public service defender, Malaysiakini will not go under. I feel confident that Malaysians will make sure of that! In their hour of need, Malaysians will rise up to stand boldly in solidarity with Malaysiakini. They will donate generously and voluntarily.

Indeed they have done just that with such enthusiasm and speed that in a matter of hours that target of half a million ringgit was not only achieved but exceeded.

What does it say? Malaysians care for freedom of expression and will support those who carry this torch on their behalf. It also means that they will not be cowed by any intimidation.

Indeed, they have done just that with such enthusiasm and speed that in five hours the target of half a million ringgit was not only achieved but exceeded.

What does it say? Malaysians care for freedom of expression and will support those who carry this torch on their behalf. It purely means that Malaysians keep faith with each other. It just means that Malaysians will not be cowed by any intimidation.

Let’s remember the maxim that “If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them.”

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

P Ramakrishnan is the long-serving former president of Aliran who served three and a half decades on its executive committee, and has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977. Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.

Sent by email 19 February 2021

Rebuilding Malaysia

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